Aging water system poses challenges; Dune Fest 2016; The fight for food safety; Elliott State Forest pricetag; Archie reservations; Oregon Coast Aquarium for the birds

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Dunes City looks to aid water district residents

About 60 residents in the South Coast Water District near Hilltop Way in Dunes City were without water over the weekend.  An underground leak in the privately owned utility was finally located Wednesday.  Service was restored by last night.

Dunes City doesn’t have any direct jurisdiction over the water district, but Mayor Rebecca Ruede (REE-dee) says they’re doing what they can to help with what has been a chronic problem.

Rebecca Ruede – “This has been an issue for a number of years that citizens have been aware of and the council is aware of it also.  We’re looking at a long term resolution and we’re just, you know, beginning to have those discussions and see, you know, trying to gather our options around to see what we can do to affect a long term better solution.”

Dunes City has had discussions with the Governor’s office to see if there is some long term assistance available.

Dune Fest 2016

Celebrating everything on the sand is the goal of this weekend’s Dune Fest in Winchester Bay.

The annual festival that draws thousands of off-road enthusiasts to a section of Douglas County parkland just below the Winchester Bay Lighthouse actually began Wednesday.

Through Sunday it will feature sand drag races, freestyle shows, a moto-cross, exhibitors and other family entertainment.

Weekend passes are $45 at the gate.  It’s $25 for single-day passes.  The event is sponsored by the Reedsport Winchester Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Former Florence resident front and center in food safety research

With an estimated 350 food safety outbreaks each year in the United States, it’s important for food processors and retailers to pay close attention to preventing contamination by things like E coli and salmonella.  A former Florence resident is in the middle of that work right now at Oregon State University.

Joy Waite-Cusic (KYU-sik) is a food safety scientist.  Two years ago she worked with onion farmers in Easter Oregon to verify their irrigation practices were safe.  She was able to show federal regulators that farmers were able to prevent E coli contamination.  Most recently, she’s been working on a process for Oregon Hazelnut growers to keep their product safe from salmonella contamination.  Waite-Cusic and others helped farmers develop a steam-blanching process that kills the bacteria, but doesn’t affect the flavor and texture of the nuts.

Both projects had positive impacts on the Oregon economy.

Waite-Cusic is a 1998 graduate of Siuslaw High School.  She has a degree in Food Science and a masters in microbiology from Oregon State… She received a PhD in Food Science from Ohio State University in 2007.

Her work was detailed in the most recent edition of the magazine Oregon’s Agricultural Progress, published by Oregon State.

For the birds in Newport

It’s breeding season in the aviary at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.  Bird Curator C.J. McCarty says because it’s a closed environment with limited space, they carefully track how many eggs are being laid, and by which birds.

Some eggs are replaced by dummy, plaster filled eggs to keep populations down while allowing the parents to go through the natural nesting process.

Others are evaluated genetically.  If certain mating pairs keep the gene pool diverse, they’re allowed to breed, while others may not be.

And, he says, sometimes they provide young birds for other facilities.  One example of that, he said, was a pair of black oystercatchers that will eventually be sent to an aquarium in Portugal.

DSL sets out Elliott sales requirements

The Oregon Division of State Lands has put a pricetag on the 85-thousand acres that are the Elliott State Forest in Coos and Douglas Counties:  $221-million; a value based in part on three independent appraisals.

The State is required to manage the forest land to benefit the Common School Fund.  But, over the past decade, it has cost more to manage than it has generated, causing a loss to the fund.

The Oregon Department of Forestry wants to sell the land and they’ve listed a set of criteria… most of which they also blame for the operating deficit… that potential buyers must adhere to.  Things like protecting old-growth forests; watershed preservation; continued recreational access, and providing for at least 40 direct or indirect full time jobs annually for ten years.

Proposals must be received by November 15th.

Archie Knowles enters county reservation system

Campers headed to the newly renovated Archie Knowles Campground on Highway 126 east of Mapleton can now reserve their spots online.

Reservations are now being accepted for the park on the Lane County Parks Reservation System.  Parks supervising analyst Charlie Conrad said visitors have been using the facility since it reopened in June on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.  But now they’ll be able to know they have a spot before they leave home.

The website, at reservations-dot-lanecounty-dot-org allows reservation access to all of Lane County’s parks and group campgrounds.